A soft breeze flew over Vralik's face as he laid on his back. His nose crinkled slightly at the feeling, as all the scents from the surrounding cityscape were carried with it. The young man slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position, taking a look at the area around him. He was perched on roof of one of one of the many buildings around the mile-wide campus, which technically had no access--but that did not matter when one had the ability to fly. From this vantage point, Vralik could easily see the massive walls that surrounded the otherwise grassy and well-kept area. The watchtowers every so often along the edge caused him to shudder involuntarily, as memories from past injuries crawled across his skin. There were over a dozen buildings on the campus, including dorms for students, homes for faculty, educational buildings, even an agricultural building and a fully-functional medical facility. All across the grounds, different students jumped around, practiced magic both old and new, and enjoyed the start to their weekend. Vralik stretched and stood up. Perhaps he would head to the athletic facility? maybe play some games in his room, or perhaps he would just fly around campus. As he stood up however, the young man spotted something odd. A small caravan of armored vehicles, heading through the outer wall of the academy before heading for the primary education building. There were three vehicles, with two of them armed with heavy artillery on top, and the middle simply a vehicle armored to such a degree it looked like it could withstand a nuclear blast. Vralik could only think of two reasons for why such an entourage had arrived--either there was a problem student that needed to be escorted out . . . or far more likely, there was a new student arriving who had been trouble. Vralik gave a quizzical look before simply walking to the edge of the building, and then off of it. In a after a few seconds, his blue hair noticeably started to whip about as the very atmosphere swirled around his feet, slowing his descent and eventually stopping him completely with a massive gust of air only inches from the ground. He dropped the last couple inches with an apology to any young ladies nearby before running off to see the fuss with the caravan.
Inside the center vehicle of the caravan, four fully-armored soldiers sat at the ready for anything to go wrong. Each of them was wearing layers of protective material for just about any kind of substance a mage could manipulate, and were armed with tesla guns set to stun with a single shot. At higher frequencies, they could vaporize a human body. Set in the middle of this entourage of soldiers, with two military-grade assault weapons on either vehicle outside, was a young woman. Her hands were set in a pair of handcuffs linked by an energy cable. If she tried to pull against them, her body received a small electric shock. Enough for her to remain conscious, but strong enough that focusing on magic was extremely difficult.
On queue, the soldiers left the back of the vehicle, one of them with a hand around the young woman's upper arm.
"Come on mage. You're finally where you belong."
There was distinct venom in his voice when he spoke the word 'mage', he clearly had no desire to be here. Nor did any of the soldiers really, but it was their job to bring this woman into the custody of the headmaster.
Ishtar's lip snarled slightly at his tone but gave no reply. There was not a point in speaking to such a revolting creature as the ordinary humans that surrounded her. She was willing to walk with them silently as long as they didn't jerk her around in a painful manner. Her eyes strained a bit at the bright light coming from the door. With their allowances, Ishtar stepped out of the armored vehicle. The area surrounding her was attractive enough to the eye, for a prison. There were people staring at her, whom she assumed were students, mages like her.
That fact was enough for her to straighten up and appear as poised and collected as possible. Her emerald eyes flashed with fire but she marched in step with the soldiers. Her steps propelled her forward enough to push her hair back a bit. Her worn leather jacket was a little on the warm side at the moment and she probably desperately needed a shower. That's one thing that would be good here. A shower, new clothes, makeup for the first time in forever...she could definitely be okay with parts of this minor set-back. The ultimate goal was unchanged; she had to find her sister.
They stepped inside of the building and she dropped her poise slightly. There were far more adults here. Now her uncaring look came over her face as she waited for them to take her wherever they were going to take her now.
"Come now, I apologized, and you still have most of your eyebrows! Can't we put this unfortunate event behind us?"
Samuel had been enjoying a late lunch in one of the nearly-empty classrooms, save for another young man who had been studying silently. Samuel was idly practicing entry-level pyrokinetics with his right hand while munching on an apple in his left. Unfortunately, he had been momentarily distracted by the armored convoy's arrival, and when he glanced out the window at its approach his spell misfired. It launched a pea-sized mote of fire from his fingertips into the studious classmate's forehead. Now, this particular classmate happened to be on the football team as well as heavily involved in one of the school's numerous gangs. The school's gangs had a varying level of aggression amongst them, ranged from "cliques with attitude" to "I don't like the way you blinked at me." This kid belonged to one somewhere in the middle. Understandably, he didn't enjoy the sensation of a tiny firecracker attacking his brow, and with the screeching of chairs and squeaking of sneakers, he engaged pursuit of Samuel to make it even. Hence, Samuel hurtled down the school's corridors, desperately trying to reason with the freight train behind him. "I-It's hair, it grows back! If it doesn't, I'm sure there's an applicable spell that does!"
It wasn't working out. You'd almost think the guy didn't even speak English. Not even a nod or head shake. He could try throwing the apple in his hand back for a distraction, but he had a feeling that wouldn't work. Besides, it would be a huge waste of his first successful Fall harvest. So he sprinted, fruit in hand, until rounding the corner to the main lobby. He had intended to escape outside but came to a skidding halt just a couple feet in front of several new faces.
Well, one new face at least. He'd already been acquainted with the bad end of a tesla gun barrel before.
At least this new face was pretty, he thought while he stood in a stunned silence, debating what to do. Then he remembered his pursuer. He jerked his head to look behind him just in time to see the jock take one look at the armed guards and run for it. Thankful for his lucky break, he returned his attention to his savior, but his words caught in his throat as it sunk in who he was about to thank. A young woman, and a pretty one at that. Interesting. It wasn't as if there weren't pretty girls at the Academy, he'd just kept his distance. From everyone, really. Two years of study and he hadn't even tried to make any friends. It's not hard to see, then, that being within conversation distance with someone - of the opposite sex, no less - would give him pause. He only wished she'd say something. She was pretty, and there was something intimidating about her as well. His legs seemed to move automatically. He felt a pang of frustration that running away was so common an act for him, but if she was going to attend the Academy, he was sure he'd see her around sooner or later. With a polite nod to the raven-haired lass, he hoped he'd conveyed his thanks and apologies.
Samuel took a deep breath as he stepped outside, deciding to head to the rather large library. He would unwind by borrowing a vinyl record or two and relaxing in his section of the student gardens. He had furnished a little clearing with a bench, two wooden patio chairs, and a beat-up record player. He had fashioned a protective sheet for it from an old tarp to spare it from the elements when necessary. He loved that thing more than almost all of his earthly possessions, of which he had few to start with. It only skipped every couple songs and even had an f/m radio built into the bottom. He shivered a little as a gust of wind rolled through him. Not because he considered it particularly cold or anything. It had more to do with the association it had built in him with a fellow student who seemed to live for sticky situations. Samuel envied his boldness, but had no intention of ever attempting to mirror his daring misadventures.
Samuel had gotten accidently involved a couple of times with Vralik and his "roamings". He had no intention of ever purposefully joining in.
It started as a rather normal day, or as normal as days really get as a student at a school of magic. Nyx woke up, and marveled at the fact that he could see his room, his immediate surroundings. Layered over the walls were thin, insulated wires that carried a miniscule charge, but it was enough to give the space definition to his unseeing eyes. Thin metallic threads, woven into the fabrics of the room, further defined it, and he reveled in this bountiful light. Despite the knowledge that he'd be stuck at the academy for the time being, he actually was happy about it. It being as high tech and advanced as it was, and with the plethora of magics being used, Nyx was probably one of the only students who'd rather stay than leave, since this was a place where he could see nearly as well as anyone else. Not that he'd let anyone know that, though. He still went through the motions of a blind man, cane and all, and was perfectly happy to let the administration believe that his vision was duller than it was. It earned him a single's suite, and given a measure of lenience and assistance that few others would experience.
After a rather bland lunch, something that couldn't be helped at a government run academy, Nyx went for a stroll around campus. Months later, he'd still marvel at the colours and emanations of all the different magics being practiced; Bright, dull, colours, shades of grey, pulsing lights, and radiant fields. This afternoon though, there was a dead gray mass in front of the primary education building, and it irked him. Of all the colours and variations of things he could see, the dead grey was the worst. Flat and stagnant, it weighed heavily upon everything, and it ruined his otherwise quite chipper mood. With a sigh, he began to make his way over to it, if for nothing else than to facilitate its departure.
As he got nearer, the grey mass resolved its shape into that of a series of large trucks, sitting heavily on their magnetically driven metal wheels. "Ahh, probably a new student then," he theorized, "I wonder if Bill was on duty?" Endeavoring to find out, he continued his walk up the grey-mottled people shapes, his cane tapping almost rhythmically upon the ground. Stopping at a respectable distance, since any guard on intake duty was likely on edge, Nyx called out rather jovially, "Ayo, Bill, You there?" Bill was a friend from high school, who'd not been quite smart enough or quite diligent enough to go to any sort of college. While they had kept in contact after graduation, it was a surprise to both of them when they met at Nyx's intake. While many would likely have revoked their friendship with a mage, many who knew Nyx would understand why he didn't. From their perspective, he was blinded for life, forever locked away from the visual wonders of the world, and even limited in what he could physically go and do, and for what? The ability to see magnets? They considered him harmless, even a victim of the mysterious force known as magic.
A number of the present guards turned a bit, including the aforementioned Bill, and noticed Nyx standing a good ten feet away, a definitively non-threatening distance. A number of greetings get shouted back, some cheerful, some stressed, but they all knew Nyx, as despite being at the academy for such a short time, he was often called upon to be present at intakes as a sort of student liaison helping to figure out housing situations, meal tickets, class schedules, etc... Stuff that no one really wanted to do, but needed to be done. And because he wasn't a bureaucrat, and was seen a pitiable sort(blinded by magic, and then jilted on cool powers from it) the guards usually got along with him, making the whole process smoother. He was considering seeing if he could make it into a permanent position too, as it would let him remain on the campus that shined so bright for him. "Heyo, Nyx! Its been a while, and I'd love ta chat, but we kinda got our hands full here!" Bill the guard shouts back.
"Yeah, I bet. Thats a B37 Pulse cannon over there, isn't it?" I pass back, pointing one of the artillery mounted trucks, "What are you guys hunting, dinosaurs?" Which was a more valid question that it seemed, magic being considered.
With a chortle, he comments, "Nah, not today, the department got them last after reports of a rogue summoner. But now we've got something to look forward to, am I right?" he finishes, addressing his fellow guards. After a round of ayes, he turns back to Nyx, and says, "Its an intake, and she's a real spitfire, so the brass wanted everything on her we could bring."
"Ahh, one of those, eh? Well, I've got the afternoon free if you want some help with the Intake..."
Vralik watched on as a group of roughly six soldiers escorted the new student into the academy. A young woman from the looks of it, she was much older than the individuals that usually came in. The young man scratched his head as the doors to the primary building closed. His curiosity was starting to show itself again--he now wanted to know what her life had been before coming here, and how she had to come to be here. Perhaps he would have the chance to talk with her later. Obviously the headmaster had to speak with her first, get her acclimated. He was rather interested in the conversation going on between the blind student and one of the guards, but Vralik found himself distracted by the sound of music coming from the garden. A quick glance over revealed the young man who had inadvertently been entangled with Vralik a couple of times.
Vralik casually walked over and leaned against a nearby tree near the young man.
"Enjoying the weekend are we?"
Ishtar was escorted inside without much fanfare from the soldiers. The leader, in particular, seemed to only want to get in and get out as fast as humanly possible. After an awkward encounter with a young student, where a couple of the soldiers found themselves reaching for their guns, the group headed up the stairs. There was no elevator in the establishment, forcing students and faculty to all get their exercise when moving between floors. After going up five flights of stairs, the group finally arrived in front of a pair of double doors.
The commander of the group left for only a few minutes, where muttered words could be heard on the other side, before he came back out and made a motion. The soldier who was still holding Ishtar dragged her roughly through the door, and then without another word shut the door behind her, leaving only the heavy thumping of guards boots as they left down the same stairwell. There would be some shouting from outside the window as the caravan prepared to head back.
Ishtar would find herself greeted by what appeared to be a fairly large study, with bookshelves lining either side of the room, and a massive glass window overlooking the academy across from the door. In front of said window was a large desk, covered in papers and well-used books. In front of it stood a man who appeared to be in his 40's, with slightly graying hair, but still primarily brown. This flowed all the way down past his waist, with a pair of violet eyes that seemed to pass right through the young woman's facade. He wore a simple violet and black robe, though his left arm appeared to be in a massive cast of sorts. Completely wrapped all the way up to his shoulder, and bound tightly to his chest. He offered a smile to the new arrival, and walked up to her before laying a finger down on her restraints. A brief flash later, then clanked against the ground, leaving only slightly red skin in their passing.
"Greetings child, I hope your travel was not too unbearable. Would you tell me your name?"
His voice was soft, and spoke with both kindness and yet a certain knowledge, as if he already knew everything Ishtar could tell him.
As the soldiers came back to the caravan, a couple of them overheard Bill talking with the young blind mage.
"Bill, I wouldn't get too friendly here, we're heading back immediately. And besides, you know we aren't in charge of the girl once she gets here. In and out as quick as we can. If this freak wants to help her, he's welcome to."
The man didn't offer any apology or seem to even really care that Nyx was in earshot as he moved into the back of the armored vehicle, waiting for the caravan to start moving.
"Ishtar Lunore." Ishtar rubbed her wrists slightly, more at ease seeing that this person was also a mage. "But you already knew that, I'm sure." She glanced around the room, trying to take in every detail she could. "I'm sure you know all the details of my life and my capture that the police records hold." Her fingers traveled upwards to her neck, touching the obsidian cross necklace. It was all she had left of her family now. Her sister had stolen it, much to Ishtar's chagrin at the time. But the way Sekhmet had been so proud to get her sister a birthday present, Ishtar could not bear to scold her for it. The beaten up leather jacket had been her mother's for many years till Ishtar took a liking to it. She had no piece to remind her of her father; only what he had taught her was a reminder now.
"Where is my father?" That was the only thing on her mind now. "Is he...alive?" Michael Lunore was a steadfast man but even he had his limits. The old blind fool had tried to divert attention so she could escape as well. Only Ishtar had already seen that it did not work and that she could not find a future that did not end in bloodshed with her escaping. Her blind father...probably dead but there was still a hope. Her sister, however, was safe and Sekhmet was a wily creature about staying away from people. That part of her family was safe.
"As well as I can, I suppose," Samuel said, seated next to his record player. A calm and airy violin piece was playing from it. "I trust you are well?" He asked. He had is eyes closed and his hands sat together in his lap. The very picture of calm and relaxed - or in this case, a very convincing illusion of one. Samuel's unchecked Magic demanded that he keep himself level-headed at all times, lest he hurt someone on accident. Still, he couldn't help but be a little nervous at Vralik's presence. He could be wrong, but somehow Samuel doubted Vralik was only here for small talk.
Really, it wasn't as if Samuel disliked Vralik. The guy's persistence and upbeat demeanor made him the closest person to a friend Samuel had, and he'd seen him around campus helping his fellow students with just about anything they needed. It was just the trouble that always seemed to follow close behind Vralik that made Samuel wary of his presence. Samuel's wariness was probably unfounded; actually, perhaps he had caught wind of the new student?
Heh. Caught wind. Vralik. Samuel almost chuckled at that accidental pun.
The headmaster offered a smile at Isthar, but did not answer her immediately. Instead, he walked over to his desk, and made a motion for Ishtar to follow him. With the same motion, a chair in the corner seemed to wriggle itself to life, and walked over to the table before settling down as a seat for the young lady.
"You are correct that the government has provided me with about as much information as I could possibly want on your past and your circumstances. Yet I find them lacking. A teacher can learn much about their student from how they answer one's questions."
As he continued to speak, the headmaster sat down and laid his unrestrained hand down on the desk
"I simply wish to learn about you, from yourself. Not some stack of paper handed to me by the government."
"I'm doing well, yes."
Vralik offered a smile at Samuel before unapologetically sitting down in the grass next to him. Samuel always seemed reclusive and reluctant to talk about himself. Something which simultaneously bugged Vralik, and yet kept him talking to the young man. After all, he couldn't just leave the boy alone.
"What're you listening to? I don't listen to much old stuff."
"Well what do you want to know? Let's see, I've been home-schooled all my life by my parents, everyone says I have anger issues..." Ishtar paused as she sat down on the weird moving chair. "I've been dragged to a place I had hoped I would never see..." Inwardly, she was slightly impressed with the fact that the place looked more welcoming that she had ever envisioned. "Water is my best friend and I learned to look into the future from my old man." Her eyes became vacant as she stared at nothing, her eyes not really seeing. "My mother died because of itchy trigger fingers like the guys that brought me in." Her fingers gripped the arms of the chair. "And since you haven't answered my question about my father, I choose to not say more."
The headmaster let his chin rest on his hand as Ishtar continued, watching keenly with every word she spoke. He offered a sad smile at the woman before standing up from his desk
"I unfortunately cannot answer your question, as I have been given no information regarding your father. I can offer my condolences."
As he spoke, the headmaster walked around the edge of his desk, and knelt down so that he was eye-level with the young woman. His good hand came to her shoulder, and she would feel a slight warmth spreading through her skin from the point of contact
"I cannot change what has happened, but I will do everything in my power to help your future. It is my desire to see all my students grow and succeed, regardless of their circumstances when they come here."
"Honestly, I don't know," A small chuckle escaped Samuel. "The label is so worn the writing isn't legible. What IS readable I'm pretty sure is in German. Whatever its title, I find it quite pleasant. So few of our generation give due consideration to the gifts of generations past."
He allowed a pause before addressing what might be the true purpose to Vralik's presence. "I presume you noticed the military convoy? It bears a new student, from what I saw." He opened his eyes as he spoke to meet Vralik's gaze. This was a topic interesting enough to warrant Samuel's attention. "A woman, looking around your age." He didn't feel the need to note her attractiveness, which is a subjective issue that Vralik can decide himself when he meets her - an even Samuel knows will happen soon, given Vralik's personality. "For her sake, please try not to involve her in any of your escapades. At least, not until she's acclimated."
Of course Samuel knew that Vralik almost never purposefully roped others in for his adventures. The guy wasn't an idiot, and was well versed in the danger inherent in trying to explore beyond the walls. Still, as Samuel knew from experience, people can get involved whether they meant to or not.
"Grow and succeed? A mage?" Ishtar rolled her eyes. "Don't make me laugh. We're looked down on and despised. Feared because of the actions of a few and hunted down to the point where we have to defend ourselves. Some people can hide their differences. I look like my skin is glowing if I try to." She pulled her arms out of the sleeves of her jacket. The silver swirls running along them were like waves crashing in the ocean. "I don't get to have a chance at someone looking at me like I'm not a freak." The "waves" ran along the sides of her entire body, from the bottom of her feet to where it disappeared into her hairline. "I'm sent here to learn how to suppress my gifts so I never use them in society. Grow and succeed? No, my fate was chosen when I was born different. I'll either be treated like a barbarian or killed off because I choose to not follow their rules."
Vralik turned his gaze to the entrance of the main building as Samuel spoke, and leaned back against his hands in the grass.
"I did notice--kind of hard to miss them from a roof. She's a lot older than most of the students who come in. I wonder why she's only just now being brought in? Did you speak with her at all?"
Vralik gave a smile as he turned his head to question Samuel. The statement was largely in jest, as Samuel had proven repeatedly that speaking to the opposite sex was a more monumental task than just about any magic lesson the young man had taken. It wasn't a jab to criticize him at all, just make a playful remark. Of course if he did actually manage to speak with her, that would warrant more questions. Vralik smiled and wondered how she would be introduced to the campus and the grounds. The headmaster had a way of individualizing the approach to every student who came in.
The headmaster gave a sigh and stood up from were he had been kneeling.
"You could let yourself believe that. I know a great many gifted ones who choose to do so. But if you choose to let the perceptions of others limit you, then how will you ever achieve your potential."
As he spoke, the cast over the headmaster's left arm started to crack. When he finished, the entire thing shattered, revealing the arm beneath . . . if it could even be called that. The appendage reached all the way down past the headmaster's knee, and was at least twice as wide as his other arm. The entire limb was covered in dark violet fur, though there were occasional patches that looked like obsidian scales at random. It was matted by what almost appeared to be some thick oil, clinging to the fur and causing it to be stiff and pliable as it moved. And the hand at the end was a massive talon, which looked like it belonged on some manner of beast from fantasy than a human. Much like a dragon or a griffon would have. He offered the limb to Ishtar, giving a smile as he did so
"If you truly believe yourself to be a freak, then you're in good company. However, no man's perception should make that decision--only you can decide whether you think yourself one or not."
Samuel knew that Vralik knew about his difficulties being social. He also knew Vralik knew it go harder when they were female. Furthermore, he knew Vralik knew that Samuel knew he knew. Samuel additionally knew that Vralik's inquiry was a good-natured jest.
What Samuel didn't know was why Vralik even had to ask.
"Must you even ask? You know I am not capable of that," he replied, with a little more bite in his voice than he intended. Samuel took a deep, slow breath. There was no reason to vent his personal frustrations like that. "Our meeting was brief, regardless, so there would have been little time for pleasantries. The guards were escorting her to the headmaster, I'm sure."
Samuel reminisced on his meeting with the headmaster. He was the first person to treat Samuel as an equal, despite his uncontrolled magic. Until then, Samuel had not yet met another mage. That arm of his terrified Samuel at first, but looking back....despite its appearance, it was somehow completely non-threatening. Sometimes a monster is just something people don't try to understand.
"I'm sure she'd be more interested in conversing with you, anyway. You certainly seem popular enough." Samuel was averting his gaze to one of his apple trees. The fruit on its branch was a brilliant red. Samuel figured his face was probably about that shade right now.
"Cool." Some might have been frightened by the arm but Istar was not. It reminded her of Sekhmet shape changing magic, so it was more nostalgic to her. "I don't think I'm a freak; I find mages to be interesting and unique. The rest of the world of normal humans does think I am though. But to me, they are the freaks so I guess that evens things out." She stopped herself from staring at the strange arm and looked back up to the Headmaster's eyes. "You know, you've asked me about myself. You haven't really told me who you are."
Vralik turned and looked at Samuel with a look of genuine surprise. His hand was on his breast, as if to emphasize the statement.
"I don't see why. I don't like to talk that much, I just like to do. You, on the other hand, have a great many interesting things to say."
Vralik wasn't jesting in any way here, he was being dead serious. At least in his mind, Samuel was a much more interesting conversation partner than he could ever be. He had more interesting hobbies, and a more interesting history to talk about. Not his boring story.
The headmaster gave a smile and offered the monster hand for Ishtar to take.
"Then you have already pushed yourself beyond several others. But as for you question: You may call me Leceel. I am 43 years old, and have been headmaster of this academy for 18. I know everything that goes on within the walls of this academy, and should you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me."
The headmaster offered a smile as behind him one of the papers on his desk, which had been folded into the shape of a crane, took off and flew out one of his windows. It floated down to the grounds of the academy, plopping itself directly in the hands of a blind student, asking for his presence.
Now it was Samuel's turn to be surprised, as he turned to Vralik with an expression of confusion. "I'm flattered you think so, Vralik, but I'm not such a fascinating person," he said with a shrug. "I am merely a simple man with a love of music and the natural world." He tossed his apple, now stripped bare to the core from his hunger, behind him so it landed in the herb field behind him. It would fertilize the ground and provide nutrients for the other plants.
Samuel would be more interesting to others if he was more open with himself, and he knew it. He just couldn't bring himself to talk about his past or his dreams. He was especially tight-lipped about his power. Only the headmaster knew the specifics, and everyone else just knew that he was unstable, which kept some of the more wary students away. That was fine by Samuel; it meant less distractions and awkward silences. Still, he had to admit he was somehow lonelier here than he was out on the street.
Bill scowled at the back of his superior officer, "Bastard probably left l the paperwork for me too." Turning back to Nyx, he gave a half-hearted apology as he, and his fellow guards, packed back into the paused tanks. Nyx waved it off, and waited till the rumbling behemoths had finally rolled away, before heading inside.
Ishtar took the hand, her eyes meticulously examining it. "...my sister would take one look at this and try to imitate it. She always wanted to create fantsy crestore with her magic." She gestured towards the window. "What was the message for and who to?" She did vaguely believe that it was about her since their short conversation seemed to have reached some form of end.